The Log of Moira

Southern California (April – October, 2004)

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These are mostly Susan’s remarks. Larry’s notes are indicated thus <Larry: blah blah blah.>.


Chart of Moira's track in Santa Monica Bay, Los Angeles, including Long Beach, San Diego, Santa Catalina Island, Santa Barbara Island, and Santa Cruz IslandOn April 16th 2004, we started early for Santa Barbara. Now came the fun part. Up to this time we had been dressing in our cross-country polypropylene skiing clothes, including long johns. As we got each mile closer to Santa Barbara we shed more clothes. By mid day we were back into SoCal shorts and light shirts and were so grateful to be back in the relative warmth of Southern California. Beach Boys, here we come. We spent over a week in Santa Barbara seeing friends, doing the wine country around the area and just enjoying warm breezes and the LA Times.


With the wine cellar filled up we were ready to hit the road, so to speak, once again. Sitting across the Santa Barbara Channel are the Channel Islands, some more remote than others. We sailed on April 25th to Santa Cruz Island, which is about 25 miles off the coast, and is known for several good anchorages well protected from the prevailing wind and swell. We anchored alone in Pelican Cove, in which you might expect to see many pelicans. So we did, and that was a treat. In addition, we saw dolphins, and some Jellyfish, Santa Cruz Island, Californiavery large, magical jelly fish, very beautiful creatures just waiting to sting you if you bother them. The water was too cold for swimming without a wet suit, so I did not swim with the jelly fish, deciding to wait until Catalina Island. However the water was a gorgeous deep blue with aqua colored water taking over in more shallow areas. The weather remained lovely and the winds slightly warm, just warm enough to remind us that we were really in So. Cal. We traveled down the North side of Santa Cruz Island and stayed in Little Scorpion Cove, a beautiful small cove which was for us alone until the weekend, at which time it filled up quickly. The only problem was that not every boater agreed to anchor the same way… bow anchor only… so there were moments of agitation as boats swung too close together, when first trying to anchor or when the wind or current shifted direction. <Larry: The usual rule is that the first boat into an anchorage sets the regime on one or two anchors. One anchor (by the bow), and everyone swings together, to the direction of wind. Two anchors (bow and stern) and everyone is held rigidly in place. The two regimes don’t mix. We were the first boat into the anchorage, and set one anchor. Boaters from Santa Barbara don’t give a damn who they hit, or who hits them. We calculated that one night, anchored on one anchor, we passed within 30 feet of another boat, anchored on two anchors. We gave up, and dropped a second anchor.> One boat dragged anchor, and ploughed backwards so fast through the group of boats already anchored that no time remained to warn the boaters in his path downwind. After several encores, that boat left the anchorage with one injured crewmember, his hand torn up in wrestling with his anchor. Oh well, anchoring correctly is one of the big skills to learn. So far we have been fine.


After a week or so we took off for Catalina Island on May 1st, where we headed straight for Cat Harbor on the South (windward) side of the isthmus. This is an all-weather anchorage on Catalina, away from much of the noise and weekend boating chaos of the North side <Larry: and as a result, much favored by the hard-core cruising community>. Cat Harbor is about a mile walk from the village of Two Harbors and the modest cruising amenities that it offers. The cruising world is a rather small community, and one often meets old acquaintances in new ports. We started enjoying the world of the cruising community as we had potlucks and cocktails on board various boats with some of the cruisers anchored in Cat Harbor, and met and talked with others in the village of Two Harbors.


Most of May went by while we were in Long Beach at the Alamitos Bay Marina. The three chandleries adjoining the marina received considerable financial support from our boat work, but we also got in some significant relaxation. We saw friends, reprovisioned, and enjoyed the exciting and successful revitalization efforts of the City. I am so proud of all the work that has been done in Long Beach and particularly the last four years. So, well done, Long Beach! Both Larry and I will be looking for someplace to live after we finish sailing and both agree that it will most likely be Long Beach unless we find some place we like better. So Long Beach will become the standard to beat. Stay tuned.


In May we had the pleasure of flying to NYC to participate in John’s graduation from Columbia. That was a joy for us and we are so very proud of John.


To round out the summer, we spent a pleasant week in July on a mooring in Newport Beach, and had several trips back and forth between the mainland and the Channel Islands, via Catalina. To break up the passages between Catalina and Santa Cruz Island in June <Larry: just a little long for a comfortable daylight passage> we stopped several times at Santa Barbara Island, which is about 40 miles from Santa Cruz Island, and roughly 25 from Catalina. This island is very remote and desolate, inhabited by sea lions, pelicans, and a ranger located in a very smart looking and rather new marine center and ranger center high on the hill. Access to the Ranger station, Santa Barbara Island, Californiamarine center requires that one take one’s dinghy to the foot of a tall ladder attached to a wharf let in to the side of a cliff, climb up the stepladder, and order the sea lions out of the path from the wharf to the ranger station. We declined that opportunity and just enjoyed the wildlife and the austere remoteness of the area from our boat. When we stopped over in Catalina on these trips we would often anchor in Emerald Bay, one of our favorite anchorages, just outside of Two Harbors, on the leeward (North) side of the island. Beautiful, clear turquoise water with visibility usually to the bottom of the cove at 25-40 feet.


As the summer ended we set sail for San Diego, where we spent September and October after a brief stop in Dana Point. On approach to San Diego, in the predawn dark, we saw on our RADAR the arcing tracks of high-speed vessels that would come at us from one side, then when a mile or two away would turn away from us and head back the way they came. This experience was repeated a number of times over the hours, until eventually we were hailed on the radio by a vessel asking “our intentions.” As best we can work it out, the high-speed vessels were some sort of guard craft, perhaps inflatables (with a low RADAR signature) who were patrolling a cordon around some Navy ship that was heading in to San Diego.


We had applied to join the Baja Ha-Ha cruiser’s rally (see from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, a 750 mile trip down the peninsula of Baja California <Larry: and downwind, mostly! But see below.> with about 150 other boats, nearly all sailboats. Our application was accepted and we needed to spend the time in San Diego in preparation. <Larry: More financial support to chandleries. One of the great benefits of this summer cruise was that we learned how things break in this complex organism called Moria: what the symptoms are, how to work backward from the symptoms to the diseases, and what to do about them. Many boats on the Ha-Ha were newly purchased, or had newly installed systems, with which their owners struggled painfully on the way down the Mexican coast. We were able to break up the work with a pleasant week of vacation (do retired people take vacations?) in Seattle, and a practice night-passage up to Catalina Island and back.>


Additional photos from this season can be found in our Photo Gallery and Moira’s Ship’s Store.


Statistical summary of the season in California









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The Log of Moira by Laurence & Susan Shick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.